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Old Friends and New Faces: Marlins 6, Cardinals 4

Miami opened spring training with a come from behind win over the St. Louis Cardinals on the strength of a 2-homer performance from non-roster invitee Scott Van Slyke.

MLB: Miami Marlins-Media Day Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Some thoughts from Miami’s first spring training game. Ok, it’s every thought I had during the game. Sue me. I missed baseball too. Here’s the box score.

  • Van Slyke was a nice surprise. As a non-roster invitee, the odds are long in every case. This guy, however, is going to try to make it impossible for the Marlins to ignore him.
  • Peters was shaky, but mostly good, and he did keep the Redbirds off the board.
  • Brinson got to show off two of his five tools, with a double and a good catch.
  • Diaz was nearly nonchalant in his effort to field the easy ninth-inning looper, taking his eye off the ball at exactly the wrong moment.
  • Yes, Wong stole third off of Realmuto, but J.T. had the throw right on the money and looks to have that arm already in mid-season form. He also went 1-for-2 from the dish.
  • Marlins’ pitching combined for 11 strikeouts, a 2.00 ERA, and a 1.667 WHIP. They also collected three double plays, to none for St. Louis.
  • Like Van Slyke, Shuck also went 2-for-2 in relief, and that outfield assist was eye-opening.
  • Miami’s starting nine were just 3-for-18 (.167) at the plate, while their replacements were 7-for-15 (.467).
  • Hernandez gave up all of Miami’s earned runs in the fifth, but he settled down to pitch a pretty good sixth inning.

What follows is an in-depth recount of each inning, which is why I started with these bullets (in case it’s tl;dr for you). If brevity is your enemy, then by all means, read on. If not, then check out the highlights and we’ll see you in tomorrow’s game thread.

Top 1

Kolten Wong drilled the first Dillon Peters offering to deep left field, over Derek Dietrich’s head for a standup double. Not a promising start to the start. Harrison Bader then worked Peters to a 2-2 count before swinging at strike three for the first out of the game. Yadier Molina, a career .284 hitter and eight-time all star still catching in his 15th big league season, distracted Peters long enough for Wong to steal third base on the ninth pitch of the at bat, then struck out swinging on a full count for out number two. That’s when St. Louis’ brand new #23 strolled up to the plate. Marcell Ozuna proceeded to then hit a harmless one-hop grounder directly at new Marlins’ second baseman Starlin Castro, who flipped it over to first bagger Eric Campbell to keep the Cards off the board.

Bottom 1

Marlins’ fans got an early first-look at new Marlin (and recent St. Louis Cardinal) Magneuris Sierra, who led off the bottom of the frame for Miami. He took a ball then skied it to shortstop Greg Garcia for out number one. J.T. Realmuto, still hanging around the Marlins for some reason, batted second opposite Cards right-handed starter John Flaherty, then struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch out of the zone. Castro followed that by grounding to Patrick Wisdom at third base, who tossed it easily to Luke Voit, starting at first for St. Louis to keep Miami scoreless.

Top 2

Voit, a native of St. Louis, led off the second inning for the Cardinals by calmly barking a 1-2 curveball to right field for a base hit. St. Louis left fielder Tyler O’Neill, who whiffed 151 times in triple-A ball last season, waved over a tricky looking slider on a 2-2 pitch for the first out, and Peters’ second whiff. Garcia lined a 3-1 offering over Castro’s head into right center field for the Cards’ third hit of the ballgame. The single moved Voit over to third base, and there were runners on the corners and one out for Peters. Wisdom then grounded into a Castro-to-Miguel Rojas-to-Campbell double play to end the threat. It would be the last of Peters, who ended the night with a scoreless line and three strikeouts over two innings.

Bottom 2

Justin Bour led off the second inning for the Marlins by getting caught flatfooted on a 2-2 fastball from Flaherty. Campbell grounded to Garcia at short on the very next pitch for out #2, and Dietrich grounded out to Wong at second base for a very quick 1-2-3 inning. Flaherty retired at that point with a perfect line for the game, along with two strikeouts.

Top 3

Odrisamer Despagne took the hill to start the third inning for the fish against center fielder Oscar Mercado, then free-passed him on five pitches to give the Cardinals their third leadoff man in a row first base. Wong’s second trip to the plate would see him slap a 2-1 pitch to first baseman Campbell, who slung it over to Rojas covering second for the force-play. Bader struck out on a check-swing at Despagne’s 1-2 pitch, then Molina smacked a hard grounder to the left side, where hot corner Brian Anderson fielded it cleanly and tossed it to Campbell for the third out.

Bottom 3

John Gant, who has a career 4.81 ERA in 67 major league innings between the Braves and the Cards, drew Lewis Brinson, who was making his first plate appearance for the Marlins. Brinson hit an 0-1 pitch to Bader for the first out. Anderson then got a look, and chopped a 2-2 pitch to Wong for another easy out. Rojas struck out check-swinging at a pitch out of the zone to end the third, and the Cardinals were still tossing a combined perfect game. Fortunately, that wouldn’t last forever.

Top 4

Ozuna led off the fourth inning, not for the Marlins, and struck out swinging on Despagne’s 1-2 offering, then Voit drew a five-pitch walk. O’Neill sharply rapped the next pitch into left field, where the ball one-hopped before getting to Dietrich. The Cardinals again had a pair of baserunners and only one out. Realmuto missed a pitch for a passed ball on a 2-2 count, to Garcia, which allowed Voit and O’Neill to each advance a base. Then Garcia knocked in Voit on a grounder to Campbell, who stepped on the bag for the second out. Wisdom drilled the next pitch into center, and we got to see Brinson lay out for a shoestring catch to retire the side. Despagne closed the game with an unearned run to his credit, but was on the hook for the decision if the game ended at 1-0. It did not.

Bottom 4

Sierra’s second at bat of the night would see him work the count full before waving at a low fastball for the Cardinals’ 10th consecutive outs to start the contest. Realmuto put a stop to all that with an 0-1 single to right-center. Castro followed by slicing an 0-1 pitch to right field to put runners on first and second with one out, and was replaced on the basepaths by Isan Diaz. Bour crushed the ball to right, but right fielder Mercado (who along with left fielder O’Neill were the only players to remain in the game for all nine innings) tracked it down on the warning track for the second out. Realmuto moved to third on the play. Campbell hit the next pitch to Wilfredo Tovar, who was in at second for Wong. Tovar flipped it easily to Garcia for out number 3.

Top 5

Elieser Hernandez, a rule 5 pick from the Houston Astros, started the fifth inning for Miami amongst other wholesale changes in the field. Scott Van Slyke moved into right, Bryan Holaday took over behind the plate, Diaz remained to replace Castro, and Jonathan Rodriguez assumed first base. Hernandez first faced Mercado, who hit a looping base hit to short right-center field. Tovar then came up, and moved Mercado to second with a base-hit to right field. Then, Bader, who had struck out in two prior at bats, struck out a third time, staring flatfooted at a Hernandez changeup over the outside corner. Francisco Pena, son of the famous Tony and a Cardinals catcher like his dad, drilled it up the middle for an apparent RBI base-hit off of a diving Rojas’ glove. Ozuna followed up with a long sacrifice fly RBI to left field to make it 3-0, bad guys, then Voit hit his second single of the night to move to move Pena to second. O’Neill’s third plate appearance resulted in a pop-fly-out to Rojas to close the inning. The damage however, as they say, was done. St. Louis led by a 3-0 count going into the bottom of the fifth.

Bottom 5

Dietrich led off the fifth against right-hander Josh Lucas, and struck out swinging at a third strike that popped out of Pena’s glove, but was easily thrown out trying to reach first. Brinson followed that with his first hit of the spring, a double off the left field wall. Anderson’s final plate appearance of the game would result in Brinson moving to third on a 4-3 groundout to Tovar. Rojas closed out Lucas’ appearance with a weak fly ball to center field.

Top 6

Hernandez remained in the contest to pitch the sixth inning for the Marlins, and was joined by defensive replacements J.B. Shuck in left, Isaac Galloway in center, Cristhian Adames at third, and Yadiel Rivera at shortstop. Garcia promptly flew out to Galloway in center field to open things, followed by a Wisdom full count strikeout. Mercado smacked a full count line drive near Rivera, but the shortstop couldn’t come up with it. With the runner at first, Tovar ended the inning by striking out swinging at a 1-2 pitch low in the zone.

Bottom 6

22-year-old right-hander Conner Greene came on to pitch the sixth for the Redbirds, and was welcomed by Pirates legacy and late of the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke. The heavily bearded Van Slyke drove a 2-2 Greene pitch well over the wall in left field to finally get the Marlins on the board, though down by two. Holaday followed him by whiffing on a 1-2 fastball, then Diaz went down in a nearly identical at bat. The Marlins’ Johnny Giavotella pinch hit for Bour, and grounded out sharply to second, where Tovar tossed over to new first baseman Rangel Ravelo. Giavotella remained in the lineup at the DH position.

Top 7

Alex Wimmers took to the mound to pitch for Miami in the seventh, and walked Adolis Garcia on six pitches to lead things off. Pena drilled a 1-2 grounder to third baseman Adames, who fielded it cleanly and pivoted nicely toward the second baseman, but threw the ball too low and everyone was safe. Andrew Knizner pinch hit for Ozuna, and Wimmers uncorked an 0-2 wild pitch, well outside, which advanced the runners to second and third, respectively. Knizner flew out to J.B. Shuck in deep left a batter later to bring Garcia home, but Shuck wisely threw the ball to Adames, who tagged out the slower Pena trying to advance. It scored as an RBI-sacrifice fly double play for Knizner, then Wimmers redeemed himself somewhat by striking out Ravelo on a 1-2 slider low.

Bottom 7

Left-hander Jordan Schafer opened the second by serving up an 0-1 ground-rule-double to Rodriguez, to left-center field. Shuck then hit a dribbler to the right side to Tovar to move Rodriguez to third, but Tovar couldn’t make the throw in time. With runners on the corners, Galloway lined out to shortstop Yairo Munoz on his first pitch for the first out, then Adames did his part to load the bases by drawing a four pitch walk. In the next at bat, in his only plate appearance of the ballgame, Rivera laced a 3-1 pitch up the middle to move everyone up a base and score Schafer. Mike Maddux took this opportunity to visit his pitcher, and in hindsight, they probably should have lifted him at that time. I’m glad they didn’t. Van Slyke tattooed his second moonshot of the game on a 3-2 count to give the Marlins four runs and a 6-4 lead all in one swing. Ryan Sherriff was brought in to complete the inning, and induced groundouts from Ravelo and Diaz to end the damage.

Top 8

Drew Rucinski started for the Marlins in the eighth and struck out O’Neill on three pitches. Munoz followed with a two-bag gapper between the center and right fielder on his first pitch of the at bat, then Alex Mejia, in at third base for Patrick Wisdom, struck out swinging at a high 2-2 fastball. Mercado chopped to Rivera to close the inning with no harm to the Marlins.

Bottom 8

Jordan Hicks pitched the eighth for the Birds, and began by inducing a 1-2 Giavotella groundout to shortstop Munoz, who tossed it to Ravelo for the first out. In his second plate appearance, Rodriguez whiffed on a low Hicks fastball. Shuck singled on a curveball on the outer half of the plate to keep the inning alive with two out, but Galloway (the longest tenured player in Miami’s organization) struck out on four pitches.

Top 9

Javy Guerra came on for the Marlins to try and nail down a three-out save in the ninth. Tovar hit a 2-2 blooper over the right side of the infield, where new addition Diaz took his eye off the ball and allowed the leadoff runner on. Guerra got Garcia to hit a 1-2 comebacker for an easy 1-3 groundout, moving Tovar to second. Breyvic Valera pinch hit for catcher Pena, and drew a walk to put the go-ahead run at the plate, then Knizner drew another one to load the bases. Guerra induced Ravelo into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play, redeeming Diaz’ earlier error.

Tomorrow, the Marlins get another 1:05 PM showtime, hosting the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.